The blue blazes on trees along the way are your guide to safely stay on the trail. The trail splits in places, providing alternative routes, that rejoin the main trail farther upstream.
The blue blazes on trees along the way are your guide to safely stay on the trail. The trail splits in places, providing alternative routes, that rejoin the main trail farther upstream.
2
3
4
5
When the Waldo County and Penobscot Bay YMCAs closed down back at the end of March, I felt I was completely out of luck. As a swimmer, getting in workouts three or four times a week is an opportunity to clear my head, get my heart rate up, and maybe build up a little appetite for my supper. It isn’t easy to replace. “Go outside and take a walk,” I was told, as if it were that simple. But without much choice in the matter, I resorted to doing something I often enjoyed in my younger years, walking in the woods.

But which woods where? Here in Maine, we have a plethora of open forest to wander around in. Years ago, I used to hike up into the Camden Hills State Park on the Maiden Cliff Trail and walk across to Megunticook Lookout on the Ridge Trail. That was nice. Sometimes I’d descend from Megunticook to Mount Battie on a trail that meets with and weaves around the auto road, then another trail down to Camden village. Finally, I’d walk along the highway back to the Maiden Cliff parking lot where my car was. Those were younger days when I had more time and endurance.

Nowdays, after just turning 60 and living in Belfast, I don’t have much appetite for driving down to the next county just to take a quick walk. So instead, I have access to a number of local trails. My favorite of these is the Little River Trail that starts near the Route 1 bridge over Little River at what’s called the lower dam. You pull off, drive over to the trailhead kiosk near the water district garage, and you’ll see the signs for trail parking.

One thing I noticed, as a result of local politics, is a dirt road leading off from the parking area with a handpainted sign saying, “Keep Out.” I assume this may have something to do with the proposed aquaculture farm that Nordic Aquafarms wants to build. It’s all been in the news and even if you’re not familiar with it, it’s best to avoid going over there. Stick to the kiosk and the trail to be safe.

It being early in the season (April is still pretty early around these parts), I noticed a lot of trees down and broken from the winter, but also possibly from our recent wet spring snowstorm.

One thing I appreciated on the trail was the various solutions to stream crossings. On this part of the trail, there were lots of stones laid in the streams to help one cross over. I found this rather inspiring. Laying down flat stones is a practical and scenic solution to crossing without getting your feet wet. It also requires little maintenance.

There were plenty of wet boggy areas to skip and jump across on stones and exposed roots and, it being April, still some patches of snow, not to mention ice on the dam reservoirs. The woods were quiet and I didn’t see any other hikers on this part of the trail.

All said, it was a joy to be in the woods after the long winter and observing those little tell-tale signs of spring. I saw red squirrels and chipmunks active and sounds of birds in the trees. Even though I was only hiking the first segment of the trail, from the lower to the upper dam, I found it to be an enjoyable afternoon of exercise in the woods. I intended to continue my walk another day by parking at the upper dam and walking as far as I could up the second segment of the trail, leading to the trailhead on Route 52.